Fragments of Levi jeans from the 1880s soared to $10,312, two period photos of the surrender of Geronimo in Arizona in the 1880s brought $5,125, and a circa 1838 one-dollar gold coin struck in North Carolina by Christoph Bechtler fetched $7,500 at Holabird Western Americana Collections’ Sizzling Summer Western Americana Auction, held August 5th thru 9th.
The five-day mega-event, packed with nearly 3,000 lots of Native Americana, philatelic (stamps) and numismatics (coins), militaria, railroad collectibles, Americana, mining memorabilia, stock certificates, art and more, was held live in Holabird’s Reno, Nevada gallery, as well as online, via the platforms iCollector.com, LiveAuctioneers.com, Invaluable.com and Auctionzip.com.
The Levi jeans fragments — which were unearthed in Eureka, Nevada — were the top lot of the sale and its biggest surprise, too. They had a pre-sale estimate of just $100-$150. They consisted of the upper parts of two pairs of early Levi pants, one with a partial label on the side. Each was made for suspenders. They measured 15 inches and 16 inches across the waist when laying flat.
The two photographs of the Apache leader Geronimo’s surrender are copies from the period, taken by the Tombstone photographer CS Fly. They were mounted by G.W. Bradley in Menasha, Wisc. The photos show Geronimo with other Apaches and Native children, plus a white child — Santiago McKinn — who had been kidnapped by Geronimo in 1885 in the New Mexico Territory.
The one-dollar gold coin produced by Christoph Bechtler around 1838 was actual legal tender, even though the coins he made at his home were not struck at a U.S. Mint. The German-born immigrant had a jewelry and clock repair business. It was miners and merchants who convinced him to produce gold coins, which he did from 1831-1840. They were accepted in the Southeast.
Day 1, on Thursday, August 5th, contained 605 lots of general Americana, to include geographic sort, World’s Fairs and Expositions, gaming, bottles and saloon, marbles and toys, jewelry, clothing, music and miscellaneous (including photos, furnishings and ephemera). The Levi jean fragments were the big story out of Day 1, but they weren’t the only clothing lot from the period.
A group of three Victorian-era men’s shirts, circa 1890-1920, unused and in mint condition, from the Parker Lion Pony Express Museum, still wrapped and folded as original, sold for $3,750. Also, a collection of seven very ornate ceramic beer steins, with all but one featuring movable tops and two of the steins having an internal music box, went to a determined bidder for $1,562.
Other Day 1 highlights included three historic ledgers from the legendary Hollenbeck Hotel in Los Angeles: three ledgers for the hotel from 1902; one ledger for the hotel restaurant, 1896; and one ledger for the saloon, 1895-1896 ($2,000); and a 1902 nice early map of Los Angeles, 22 inches square, compliments of the Hotel Westminster and published by John F. Spring ($2,000).
Day 2, on Friday, August 6th, was split between transportation lots (railroad, aviation and automobile) and philatelic (stamps and covers and postcards). In all, 596 lots were offered.
Day 3, on Saturday, August 7th, featured Native Americana (jewelry, artifacts, baskets, pottery and ephemera, to include photos, postcards and books); militaria (chronologically sorted, to include Custer and Pancho Villa collections); political memorabilia, and firearms and weaponry (featuring rare books) — 606 lots in all. The Geronimo photographs were the headliner Day 3 lot.
Other Day 3 star lots included a vintage No. 8 Mine turquoise jewelry set (Navajo Reservation, Arizona), boasting a magnificent squash blossom necklace with twelve squash blossoms ($5,125); and a World War II letter of surrender, typed in English and signed by the German Colonel Gerhard Wick, dated Oct. 21, 1944, the first German surrender on German soil ($2,625).
Jewelry pieces crafted by Zuni, Pueblo (New Mexico) Native Americans included the following:
- An antelope head bolo made by Bruce Zunie (1931-1971), one of the finest Zuni mosaic artists, mostly in jet, with mother of pearl, turquoise and coral in a silver setting ($1,750).
- A large and unusual sterling and inlay cuff made by Dennis Edaakie (1931-2008), with a magpie sitting by a cactus with flowers on each side, etched and silver overlay ($1,437).
- A horse head inlay in tortoise shell belt buckle attributed to Dan Simplicio, a rectangular silver buckle with a turquoise stone set in the corners and having etched edges ($1,250).
Day 4, on Sunday, August 8th, was packed with 606 lots of cowboy and Western memorabilia, art, mining collectibles, stocks and bonds, numismatics (coins and currency) and rare tokens. The Bechtler gold dollar was the hit of the session, although a token collection also attracted interest.
That would be the major collection of San Francisco bar (or saloon) collection, nearly 100 tokens in all, from the Rod Lerch collection and before that the Benjamin Fauver collection ($1,312). Also sold was a beautifully painted image of Sitting Bull’s Charge (1972) by William Douglas Rosa, with a cow skull in the foreground, 42 inches by 54 inches (image, less frame) ($4,375).
Day 5, on Monday, August 9th, wrapped things up with general books and bargains and dealer specials, which included general Americana, philatelic (stamps), stocks, bonds and numismatics (dies, coins, counters and tokens). In total, 583 lots came up for bid on the auction’s final day.
Anyone owning a collection that might fit into an upcoming Holabird Western Americana Collections auction is encouraged to get in touch. The company has agents all over America and will travel to inspect most collections. It prides itself as a major source for selling Americana at the best prices obtainable, having sold more than any other similar company in the past decade.
To consign a single piece or a collection, you may call Fred Holabird at 775-851-1859 or 844-492-2766; or, you can send an e-mail to email@example.com. To learn more about Holabird Western Americana Collections and its calendar of events, visit www.holabirdamericana.com.